Hi, my name’s Joe. I think Fleur mentioned me in the last story. I’m now living in the yard with Fleur, Jingle, Jinja, Cleo and the rest of the horses. I love it here, it’s fabulous entertainment. Everyone is so friendly and never a day goes by when something crops up to either entertain or involve one or more of the occupants of the yard. I had better introduce myself properly. Well, my name’s Joe, I am a Chestnut horse with a white blaze down my nose. I think Fleur forgot that in her discription. My previous jobs have been a stint at Great Yaremouth and a few months at another riding school. I’d rather not talk about this, it’s not very good reading and it’s a sad story anyway. Although looking back now I feel that I had better tell you, and Fleur also. You see, Fleur and I have much in common. That is that we had much the same things happen to us. We’re both lost without our loved ones. I understand that Fleur’s boyfriend was retired from work a few weeks ago. Fleur’s feeling lost without him. She doesn’t let a day go by without thinking of her lost love.
My lost love was a beautiful
Sandy and I woke to a glorious June morning.
“Hi Joe! How’s things?”
“I don’t know what I’d do without you Joe.” She said dreamily. I rubbed my nose against her’s.
“Wow! I love it when she does that!” I thought. My excitement was stirred by Sandy’s beautiful personallity. Sandy was a dear friend. I loved her so much! I looked at my best friend with admeration and gratitude.
“I have to tell you that you’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met Sandy!” I said breathlessly. Sandy’s smile widened as she realised what power she had over me. I knew she wouldn’t abuse this power.
“I love you too Joe. Please don’t ever forget that.” She said. I couldn’t take my eyes off of my girl friend. In fact, Fleur looks almost identical to Sandy. When I met Fleur I remembered Sandy. Fleur’s likeness to Sandy was too close! She reminded me of Sandy too strongly! I am finding it so difficult not to associate Fleur with Sandy. I’m thinking of Fleur as Sandy! I cannot stop! Am I making Fleur’s life hell? If I am then I wish she would tell me! Sandy was taken from me when we reached six months old.
I looked over towards Fleur trying not to think of Sandy.
“She’s not Sandy!” I thought seveerly. Fleur looked back at me with mild interest.
“What’re you thinking?” she asked.
“I can’t tell you Fleur. If I do you’ll think I’m crazy.” I replied.
“Go on Joe, have a go.” She urged.
“I think you look rather like someone I knew years ago Fleur.” I said. I told her about Sandy. As I discribed Sandy Fleur’s eyes widened.
“She sounds rather like me!” she said.
“I thought you were Sandy.” I admitted. Fleur stared at me for a long time.
“I don’t know what you’re driving at.” She said. I outlined Sandy’s and my early life. As I elaberated on some key areas Fleur’s eyes narrowed.
“I don’t know, i’m scared, confused I mean, Joe!” she said suddenly. I tried to calm her down.
“I’m not trying to frighten you Fleur. But please tell me, are you that horse I knew?” Fleur looked away suddenly.
“I can’t believe it Joe. I need to think on my own. Leave me with it.” She said. My face told her of my mounting distress.
“What do you want me to say?” Fleur asked.
“I want you to tell me the truth Fleur dear.” I pleaded. Fleur gulped hard.
“I don’t know! I’m so screwed up, please leave me alone Joe.” She pleaded. I watched in horror as Fleur’s eyes welled with tears. She sniffed.
“Joe, I remember you, I’m Sandy, Blue sparkle or Fleur, whatever you want to call me. I thought you had firgotten me. You and I were separated when we were young. I was devastated when we were parted. Even when I came to work with you in Great Yaremouth I didn’t see who you were.” She poured out her feelings in such a rush that I nearly lost my way.
“Please slow down Fleur!” I pleaded. Fleur stopped to take in air and carried on with her torent.
“I felt you’d rejected me! I couldn’t eat for weeks, I only ended my hunger strike when I was nearly dead.” I was shocked!
“But Fleur! I didn’t know.” I said. Fleur smiled sadly.
“No, I never told you because I didn’t make the connection.”
I felt so happy now. My Fleur had been found! I looked over at my friend.
“Oh Fleur, please don’t leave me again!” I pleaded. Fleur’s eyes were bright.
“I’m not going to leave you you silly old thing.” She said playfully. I rubbed my nose against Fleurs.
“You’re a lovely person Fleur.” I said. Fleur shivered with pleasure.
“I almost forgot what you were like.” She whispered.
“I’m so glad we’re together again Joe.” She said. I couldn’t put into words what I felt. My heart was swelling with pride, love and gratitude. I was greatful to the twist of fait that had brought us together again. I watched Fleur carefully. I noted all her expressions, gestjures and body language. I hoped I wasn’t being to intrusive. Fleur seemed to be enjoying this attention. She shook her head making her mane fly in the breeze.
“You’re a wonderful horse Fleur!” I exclaimed. Fleur looked steadily at me, she suddenly smiled.
“Thanks Joe.” She replied. There seemed nothing more to say. What had to be said couldn’t be said in words so we didn’t say anything out loud, but the words were there all the same. Natasha nudged me.
“So you two have found each other after a long time then.” She said.
“Too long.” Fleur remarked. I couldn’t wait for the time when Fleur and I would be allowed out into the fields. We had a lot of talking to do that we would rather that the other horses didn’t hear a word of. I asked Fleur about the rules of the yard.
“What rules? We come and go as we please. The Manageress stopped trying to pen us in when she found the cost of stable doors roketing. She knows we won’t do any damage. We just want our freedom that’s all.” I asked,
“Isn’t that having your cake and eating it though Fleur?” I had forgotten that Fleur didn’t know all these expressions. I had foxed her totally.
“What’s this about cakes?” she asked hopefully.
“Fleur, I love you but your brainless sometimes.” I thought. I tried to explain.
“Having your cake and eating it is an expression meaning that you take all you can and then expect more Fleur. It’s nothing to do with cakes at all really.” I said patiently.
“Oh that’s what it is is it.” Fleur said. I felt sorry for her. All right, she’s young, That may explain part of her apparent brainlessness. I knew that no matter how brainless Fleur was I would love her forever and defend her from harm as long as there was breath in my body. I knew that Fleur was vulnerable to attack by people wanting to take her for “A ride.” No joke intended there. Fleur may have had some problems in the logic department but there was one thing that I knew would hold her in good favour with everyone that she came into contact with during her time on this Earth. Fleur was the kindest, most sensitive horse I had ever met. I knew I was extremely lucky to have her as a partner. Fleur unbolted her door and walked out into the yard unbolting mine as she passed.
“Come on handsome, let’s go for a walk.” She said. Smiling slightly I followed Fleur up the track away from the yard.
The sun shone on the grass in the fields alongside the track we were walking on. I watched Fleur as she led me up the track towards only she knew where. I watched the way the light caught her mane as she walked. One second it would be full on her mane leaving it in deep shadow, the next the light would be slanting through the almost blonde hair making it shine. I hoped she found me as attractive as I found her.
Fleur turned left at the top of the track and opened a gate. This was the first time I had ever seen a horse do this with any confidence. All the horses that I had seen doing it before seemed to be commiting some sort of crime. Fleur knew she was allowed to do it and this is what gave her the confidence to carry out her task. We entered the field and walked towards a wood on the far side. Once inside the wood we found that it gave shade but was still warm and dry. We settled down in the grass amongst the trees. Fleur and I lay close together our noses touching. We lay there for a long time listening to the sounds of the countryside.
“I love it here Joe.” Fleur whispered. It was strange but you dared not speak above a whisper in that place. We both felt that that wood had a magical quality.
“No-one knows about this wood. I mean no horses know about it. I come here to escape from the yard sometimes.” Fleur explained. I could see why she came here for peace.
The wood was off the beaten track in a field that nobody seemed to visit often. The most enchanting thing about this patch of Suffolk countryside was that the wood was an Oak wood. Yes, a good old English Oak wood. Fleur moved slightly closer to me.
“I could spend all day up here with no trouble at all.” She said.
“You’ve certainly got a special place here Fleur.” I replied. The wood was already having it’s soperific affect on me. I didn’t want to move from this haven of Fleur’s. For it was Fleur’s wood, not mine or anyone else’s. Fleur’s simple mind needed to escape from the rush of life, and now there were less and less of these places to escape to. The humans were taking our countryside away from us at an alarming rate. I hoped for Fleur’s sake that they didn’t take this away from her. Fleur had fallen asleep with her nose on my shoulder. I whispered in her ear,
“Sleep well Fleur my love.” We didn’t leave that wood for the rest of the day. I lay in the grass keeping watch over Fleur. The sun rose higher until the midday point had been reached. A shaft of sunlight peirced the branches above our heads and shone down on Fleur’s mane making it shimmer. I kept watch over Fleur until the middle of the afternoon. She woke up then.
“How long have I been asleep?” she asked drowsily. I stretched lazily.
“Oh the best part of five hours.” I yawned.
“You mean you’ve been here all this time?” Fleur enquired.
“Yeah, all of it.” I replied. Fleur nuzzled my shoulder gently.
“You funny old thing! You could have left me here if you wanted.” She said.
“I want to stay with you Fleur. I like this place.” I said. I know that Jinja and the other male occupants in the yard would have laughed at this rather sentimental statement. I knew that this was the only way that Fleur would understand how I felt. We rose from our retreat at five in the evening. The sun was setting and the shadows were long. We meandered our way back to the yard slowly.
“I love you Joe.” Fleur said suddenly. I rubbed my nose gently against her’s.
“I love you too Fleur.” I replied. I meant it too. I loved Fleur more than I could tell her. We pulled off the track onto the tarmac road and in to the yard. We reentered our boxes and closed our doors.
“I love that place Fleur.” I said.
“That’s a secret place Joe. Please don’t tell anyone about it love.” Fleur pleaded.
“It’s safe with me Fleur dear.” I reassured her. Fleur smiled broadly.
“You’re a smashing chap Joe.” Fleur said. I laughed slightly.
“I love you Fleur.” I said ernistly.
That night we settled down to sleep feeling better than we had for years. I knew Fleur had shared with me something very dear to her. I knew I had been given a precious insight into Fleur’s world. I knew that this was a sign that she trusted me with her secret. Fleur felt better because she had shared her secret with someone that felt the same as she did.
I was woken from sleep in the middle of the night.
“What? Who? Who wants me?” I asked nobody in particular. A horse’s nose rubbed mine ergently.
“Joe, Joe!” Fleur said franticly. Her tone brought me into full conciousness.
“What is it Fleur?” I asked. Fleur’s eyes were more frightened than I had ever seen them.
“What’s happened Fleur?” I asked gently. Fleur almost collapsed she was shaking so violently.
“Carmen’s in trouble!” she replied breathlessly.
“What kind of trouble?” I asked.
“I don’t know what trouble Joe!” she panted. I looked at my girl friend with pity.
“Are you feeling all right Fleur?” I asked.
“I’m fine, but Carmen’s not!” Fleur replied. Fleur suddenly became very angary!
“You don’t believe me do you Joe?” Fleur yelled.
“I do believe you Fleur, I was just checking that’s all. Your mind can do strange things. It can make you believe things are happening that are, in reality are not happening at all.” Fleur was almost sobbing now.
“Don’t cry Fleur. I’ll come with you to find out what’s going on.” I said soothingly.
We left the yard and walked round to the field that Carmen stayed in over the summer months. I dreaded what I was going to find. I had seen a ditch in the field where Carmen stayed. My fear increased. Fleur was frantic! Our fears were realised in graphic detail!
We entered the field and walked across to the ditch. Carmen lay in the ditch panting hard. We stared at her in terror.
“Carmen!” Fleur exclaimed.
“I fell into the ditch! I’m in a lot of pain! I think I’ve broken my leg.” Carmen sobbed. I tried to dig her out. The ground was hard from two weeks with no rain however and I couldn’t dig much deeper than the top layer of soil. Carmen tried to climb out of the ditch but ended up hurting herself even more. Fleur said,
“Don’t move Carmen! We’ll go and get help. You’ll be fine, stay with her Joe.” Fleur ran off in the direction of the yard. I wondered if Fleur would be able to communicate the seriousness of the situation to the humans. Carmen laid her head on the grass. She wailed with terror!
“I’m here and I’m powerless to do anything to help.” I thought desperately. All I could do was try and comfort Carmen as best I could until help arrived.
“Look Carmen, I am not going to lie to you. I can’t do anything at the moment but Fleur’s gone to get some human help.” I felt that honesty was the best plan. The Truthful approach may have been harder to take than some fabricated story but at least Carmen knew what was going on. I felt that was the best way.
“Got any good news Joe? I know what you’re trying to do but I’m not feeling too good.” Carmen asked. I didn’t answer that one.
“What were you doing to get yourself in this state?” I asked gently. Carmen looked sick.
“I was in a fight Joe.” She said simply.
“A fight with whom?” I asked.
“The leader of the field horses of course! Who else creates havok around here? use your brain for once Joe!” Carmen snapped. I was stunned! I had never heard of this “Leader of the field horses” in my life before. I forgave Carmen her outburst, she was in a lot of pain and some people say strange things when they’re in pain.
“Who is this leader?” I asked. For answer I was pushed roughly off my feet. I landed full on Carmen making her scream with pain! I didn’t know what had hit me! When I looked up I saw a large Black horse standing over me. Carmen whimpered,
“Oh no not again!” she pleaded. The field horse leader’s eyes and mine met for the first time.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing here Joe?” he asked ominously.
“Lying in a ditch on top of Carmen at the moment actually.” I replied. Sarcasm was the wrong line to take with this horse. He launched a hoof at my head. I ducked and the hoof mercifully missed. Carmen pleaded with him to stop trying to kill me.
“Joe’s done nothing to hurt you.” She said. The field horse leader spat on the ground. I understand that this disgusting habit of his is common place in his dealings with people he doesn’t like.
Fleur then appeared with the Manageress and a few of the Lads. The Manageress produced a lungeing whip and whipped the field horse leader off of Carmen and myself.
“Get out of my sight you horrid sod!” she shouted. The field horse leader might not have respected the views of any horse and especially not those of the Manageress, but he respected a whip. He pounded off into the distance with amazing speed. The Manageress then laid down her whip and came towards us.
“I don’t know what makes him so irritable.” She said.
“He hates other horses and that’s all there is to it.” Fleur remarked. I finally was able to lever myself off of Carmen without putting her safety or mine at risk. I stood on the grass a little way from the ditch watching the humans do their work. The Manageress and a few of the Lads that had come to help were digging around Carmen as gently as they could. After a seemingly unending period of time they stopped and the Manageress tried to get Carmen to stand up. Although the ground had been levelled somewhat by the human’s frantic digging Carmen was still unable to rise from where she lay. She seemed to be confused. I went over to her and nudged her hard with my nose.
“Come on Carmen! You’re free now, you don’t have to lie there any longer.” I said. Carmen looked at me pityfully.
“I can’t stand, my leg’s broken, it’s the end for me I’m afraid.” She said softly. Fleur was distraught.
“You can’t just give up like that!” she shouted.
“Horses die if they break their legs.” Carmen said. She was slipping away, I could see that for myself. Fleur turned away too upset to look at Carmen. I started to think hard. The position that Carmen was lying in meant that she had two legs underneath her and two outstretched on what was the bank of the ditch. This meant that either one or both of her right fore and hind legs were possibly broken. I couldn’t prop her up could I? The Manageress had disappeared to phone for the vet. I didn’t know then what I know now. If I had then I would have not moved Carmen from where she was.
“Come on Carmen, we’re going to try and get you out of here.” I said. Carmen whimpered in protest.
“No! Don’t move me! Don’t move me!”
“But why not? You’re no use in there. We need to get you out so we can have a look to see if there is anything wrong.” With that I heaved Carmen up out of the ditch and onto the grass. She squealed with pain and collapsed on to the turf. I knew then that I had done too much! I had moved Carmen when I had no need to. I still feel bad about it now. Now we’re three months on from that day.
Carmen lay on the grass panting for air. She was groaning pityfully and I had never seen a horse, apart from Fleur shake so much. I could see now that Carmen’s right fore leg was indeed broken. It lay at a strange angle, an unnatural angle. I wondered why Carmen wasn’t complaining much more than she was. I now know the answer to that question also. Carmen’s body was still in shock from the battering It had received. I learned that the pain can set in hours later if the break is not treated. From the light in the sky I could see we had been here for a good hour and a half. I hoped for Carmen’s sake that the vet would arrive soon. Carmen was unresponsive to Fleur’s shouts of,
“Carmen, you still awake?” In the end Fleur bashed Carmen with her nose. Carmen nearly bit Fleur’s head off!
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she asked angrily. Fleur was not ready for this reaction. She stuttered,
“I was trying, trying to, to keep you awake Carmen. I didn’t mean to hurt you! Honest I didn’t!” The Manageress had returned with a syringe with something in it. As she knelt beside Carmen I turned my head away, I hate injections! Fleur was still shouting at Carmen and Carmen was getting more and more annoyed with her.
“Why don’t you just shut up Fleur?” Carmen yelled.
“I’m only trying to help!” Fleur replied. The Manageress then pushed the needle home. I know this because Carmen let out a squeal of shock that frightened me so much I bit my tongue. I stared through watering eyes at the Manageress. She was looking back at me with concern.
“I didn’t inject you! You stupid animal.” She said. I couldn’t tell her what had happened, But that wasn’t for the lack of trying however. I stuck my tongue out and tried to show her that I had bitten down on it. The Manageress started to laugh, I couldn’t understand it!
“Put that thing away you crazy horse.” She said. I did as she asked.
Meanwhile Carmen had drifted off to sleep. I watched as the vet arrived and fixed Carmen’s leg. I won’t begin to discribe the process.
“Put her back in her stable.” The vet instructed. He helped the Manageress to put Carmen back in her stable. Fleur and I watched them go. I watched Fleur’s face to see what she was thinking.
“I’m going to the woods.” She said. I didn’t want to disturb her so I didn’t follw her immediately. Noticing that I hadn’t followed her Fleur stopped and turned back.
“You coming then Joe.” She asked.
“All right Fleur. I thought you might want me to stay away.”
“Of course not Joe!” she said. I followed Fleur up the track towards her secret place. But now there was none of the joy and thrill of the previous walk. Fleur and I were feeling dispirited and flat. Fleur’s mane seemed to have lost it’s shine. We entered the wood and settled down quietly. Fleur closed her eyes and settled down with her nose on my neck. The wood had lost it’s warmth and now was ice cold. Fleur shivered suddenly.
“I can’t deal with this for long Joe.” She said. I rubbed my nose against her’s with conviction.
“We can, we will deal with this.” I said gently. Fleur hugged me tightly.
“I’m cold Joe.” She said. I tried to warm her up with my body heat.
“Let’s go back to our stables.” I suggested. Fleur stood up and we left the wood. We walked down the track shoulder to shoulder. Fleur rubbed her nose against mine from time to time during our walk. The walk was a depressing affair. Fleur and I walked into the yard and went to see Carmen.
Carmen stood in her stable eating straw peacefully. She turned her head our way as we approached.
“OH hi! How’s things?” she asked airily. We were amazed at the change in Carmen. Her condition had improoved greatly from that of two hours ago. She looked at us silently, a strand of straw sticking out of the corner of her mouth. Jingle spoke up.
“I’ve never seen such a swift change, Carmen was humming as she was led into her box.” I reasoned that Carmen was high on pain killers when Jingle saw her. Fudge walked passed us on the way back to her box. She rubbed her nose against each of us in a friendly manner. This was a characteristic of her’s. It’s rather endearing don’t you think? Fudge hugged Carmen.
“Are you all right Carmen dear?” she asked.
“Yes thanks Fudge.” Carmen replied. Fleur and I left the covered area where Jingle, Domino, Fudge and Carmen lived. We returned to our street and I thought that Fleur would pass me and go into her box, But she didn’t, she followed me into mine. I watched as she slammed the door and bolted it.
“Come in for warmth have we Fleur?” I asked mildly. Fleur settled down in the straw.
“I’m cold Joe.” She said. I realised that it had been over fifteen hours since I had been woken by Fleur. It hit me then how much could happen in such a short space of time.
At first Fleur has this strange vision type thing. Not only does this vision turn out to be true it’s accurate also. This scared me a bit. I had a brush with death in the form of a field horse leader who seemed to have a bad word for anyone that he met. Now Fleur was sleeping in the straw next to me. This was a perfect end to an otherwise disgusting day.
I settled down in the straw to sleep off the day. Strangely though, I couldn’t sleep. No matter how I tried I couldn’t seem to drift off. I must have tried to sleep for about an hour before giving up on it. I opened my door and walked out into the yard. All was night, I took in a tour of the yard to try and get some of the Suffolk air into my lungs. I thought somehow it would be of some help with sleep. This was a bad idea, a very bad idea.
Ever since the Manageress had whipped him off me, the leader of the field horses had been looking out for me. He didn’t seem to keep the same hours as we did. I found this out to my cost that night.
I was walking along behind the indoor riding school minding my own business when he jumped out from an alleyway on top of me. I shouted in surprise!
“Hey! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I asked. I didn’t get very far because he knocked me unconcious before I could summon help. I can’t tell you what happened after that. All I remember after that was waking in the early dawn with a throbbing head and a sore body. I rose from the concrete and walked stiffly towards my box. I couldn’t remember what had happened but it came back to me with force as I drew closer.
“Fleur!” I thought franticly. I ran the rest of the distance to my box with the hounds of hell at my heels. I burst round the corner and put my head into my box. Fleur lay there sleeping peacefully. I was so relieved I sank down on the concrete outside my box and was still there three hours later when Fleur finally woke up. She rubbed her nose franticly against mine. It was this that woke me from a tortured sleep.
“Joe! Joe!” she was shouting hysterically.
“Fleur, what’s the matter?” I asked gently. Fleur’s eyes were wild.
“What happened Joe?” Fleur asked.
“The leader of the field horses attacked me Fleur.” I replied. Fleur looked me up and down.
“You’re bruised all over Joe!” she said in horror. I looked down at my body, or what I could see of it. I couldn’t see an inch that wasn’t bruised.
“Joe! You’re in a hell of a state! What happened love?” Fleur asked. I told her about the attack.
“What were you doing out at that time of night anyway Joe?” she asked.
“I couldn’t sleep Fleur darling.” I replied. Fleur nuzzled my bruised shoulder gently. I flinched away as she touched it. Fleur couldn’t keep the tears from her eyes.
“You’re in pain aren’t you Joe?” she asked. I didn’t have to answer her verbally. My face told her all she needed but dreaded to know. Fleur looked at me sorrowfully through her tears.
“Why Joe?” she asked.
“I don’t know Fleur, I don’t know why.” I replied. Fleur stroked my nose gently with her’s.
“Even that’s painful isn’t it Joe?” She asked.
“Yes I’m afraid so Fleur.” I replied. Fleur couldn’t do anything that involved rubbing or massaging my nose with her’s to show her affection because of the bruising. She didn’t know the words to express how she felt. This frustrated her intensly. She looked into my eyes pleading with me to understand what she was going through. I understood all right. I rubbed my aching nose against her’s.
“I don’t know the words to tell you what I want to tell you.” Fleur said. I nuzzled her as firmly as I could without causing me undue pain. I struggled to my feet and walked stiffly to my box. Fleur supported me by leaning against me to keep me going until I was comfortably lying on the straw. Fleur lay down beside me and pulled straw around me to keep me warm. I laid my head down on her neck. Fleur began to cry.
“I can’t see you going through this.” She sobbed.
“I’m fine Fleur.” I told her firmly.
“You’re in pain Joe, I can’t watch you go through hell!” she shouted suddenly. I looked at Fleur feeling terrable.
“I don’t feel to bad Fleur.” I told her gently.
“I know you, you won’t tell me if you’re in pain. You’re a tipical male.” She said. I laughed and wished I hadn’t. It hurt too much. I looked fondly at my girl friend.
“I love you Fleur.” I said. Fleur dried her eyes and rubbed my nose with her’s.
“You’re wonderful Joe!” she said.
I, MARTIN WILSHER, here by assert and give notice of my right under section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of the foregoing article.
© Copyright Martin Wilsher 1998-2000
Site contents Copyright Martin Wilsher 2010
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